Songs to Know #8: Whistling Gypsy

The whistling gypsy came over the hill,

Down through the valley so shady,

He whistled and he sang till the the green wood rang

And he won the heart of a lady.


Ah dee doo, ah dee do die day, ah dee doo, ah dee day-dee

He whistled and he sang till the greenwood rang

And he won the heart of a lady.

She left her father's castle gate,

She left her fair young lover,

She left her servants and her estate,

To follow the gypsy rover.

She left behind her velvet gowns,

And shoes of Spanish leather,

They whistled and sang till the green wood rang

As they rode off together.

Last night she slept on a goose-feather bed,

With satin sheets for to cover.

Tonight she sleeps on the cold, cold ground,

Beside her gypsy rover.

Her father saddled up his fastest steed,

And combed the valleys all over,

And sought his daughter at great speed

And the whistling gypsy rover.

He came at last to a mansion gate

Down by the river Crady,

And there was music and there was wine

For the gypsy and his lady.

Oh, he's not a gypsy my father, she said,

But lord of these lands all over;

And I will stay till my dying day

With my whistling gypsy rover.

Also known as the Gypsy Rover, this version was recorded by Jill Trinka.

Leo Maguire claimed authorship of a version close to this one in the 1950's and it was sung by many folk musicians thereafter. It has many similarities to a number of related ballads going back to the 19th Century: "The Raggle Taggle Gypsy (Gypsies)," "The Gypsy Laddie," "Gypsie Davie," and "Black Jack Davy."

The more scandalous storyline of "The Gypsy Davy" involves the lady leaving everything including her husband and baby to be with her "Gypsy Davy."

More history on the song...

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